Charlotte will enter the 2012 MHSAA playoffs with a clear example of how not to play a football game after a sloppy 27-14 home loss to Portland in the regular-season finale on Oct. 19.
The Orioles (6-3) dug themselves into a hole early, fumbling the ball away twice deep in their own territory in the first half, and never recovered.
Charlotte coach Eddie Ostipow said that the rainy weather may have had a hand in his team’s inability to hold onto the football, including several bad snaps out of the shotgun.
“They (Portland) are a good team and I give them a lot of credit, but we made it pretty easy for them in the first half,” Ostipow said. “Against good teams, you just can’t turn the ball over.”
Oriole quarterback Ryan Bartolacci completed 9 of his 18 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, and Latrell Levanduski led the Oriole rushing attack with 71 yards on 7 carries in the contest.
Jacob Kimmell ran for 232 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Tanner Allison ran for one score and passed or another for the Raiders.
After Allison opened the scoring with a 1-yard sneak to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead, Zach Gustafson recovered a Charlotte fumble, a bad snap out of the shotgun, at the Oriole 30. Seven plays later, Allison found Logan Seal on a 10-yard TD pass to stretch the lead to 13-0.
Charlotte fumbled again on their next possession, and Portland again had a short field, at the Oriole 25. Kimmell gave the Raiders a 20-0 lead with a 1-yard plunge with 4:46 left in the second quarter.
Charlotte fought back in the second half, cutting the lead to 20-7 with a 21-yard TD pass from Ryan Bartolacci to Alec Kushion with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
Portland responded with a momentum-killing 8-play, 69-yard scoring drive, capped off with a 3-yard TD run by Kimmell in the final minute of the third.
Bartolacci and Kushion combined again for a 52-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left that made the final score 27-14.
The Orioles were to open playoffs, their first since 2008, at Battle Creek Harper Creek on Oct. 26, after press time. The winner will face either Plainwell or Hastings for the title on Nov. 2.